COVID jabs – who’s eligible this winter and do I really need one?
With flu season and yet another COVID-19 wave expected to cause combined chaos again this winter, advice for surviving this ‘twindemic’ is simple … get vaccinated.
Not only is it the best protection for you, it’ll also help take pressure off the NHS, which is already buckling and it’s only October.
But what’s on offer this autumn and do you really need another booster?
Here’s the very latest on the COVID vaccine programme, including why you should have yours, if you’re eligible …
Which COVID vaccine is being offered right now?
Earlier this year, the UK approved the roll-out of a dual vaccine for its seasonal booster vaccine programme, which is already underway.
Moderna’s new ‘bivalent’ vaccine targets the original COVID-19 strain as well as the more recent Omicron variant.
Adults are likely to be offered this new vaccine but, depending on supplies, may instead be offered the original Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines at their appointment.
Children and teenagers under the age of 18 will only be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Advice is to take whichever vaccine you are offered.
Is the new dual COVID vaccine safe?
‘Yes’, says Dr Kenny Livingstone from ZoomDoc. ‘All vaccines have to go through the strictest of safety checks, including several stages of clinical trials before being approved in the UK.’
Even once a vaccine has been approved by the UK’s Independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), its safety and efficacy is closely monitored – even after roll-out.
Data not only showed Moderna’s dual-strain vaccine as safe, but also that it provided better protection against newer variants, such as Omicron than previous vaccines.
And, just to put things in perspective, a medical paper published this summer, suggests that COVID-19 vaccines prevented up to 20 million deaths in the first year of use.
Who’s eligible for a COVID booster?
The NHS is currently offering a seasonal booster dose to anyone who’s pregnant, over 50 or particularly vulnerable. Carers and health and social care workers are also eligible.
Here’s the full list of who can have one:
- Aged 50 or over
- Aged 5 and over and at high risk from COVID-19 due to a health condition or a weakened immune system
- Aged 5 and over and live with someone who has a weakened immune system
- Aged 16 and over and a carer, either paid or unpaid
- Living or working in a care home for older people
- A frontline health and social care worker.
You should have been contacted about making your appointment already but if not, book yours here.
What about the flu jab? Who’s eligible?
With flu season about to hit, getting a flu jab is a sensible idea at this time of year. It’s also perfectly safe to get it at the same time as your COVID vaccine (although you’ll need to book the appointments separately).
Certain age groups (over 50s) and vulnerable groups (pregnant women, children, carers, health workers and those with low immunity) will be able to have it for free, via the NHS but don’t forget you can also pay to have a flu jab done privately – something that’s not possible with a COVID vaccine yet.
Private flu jabs cost from around £16 (prices vary) and did you know ZoomDoc can administer your business’s flu vaccines, keeping employees protected within weeks.
FInd out more about corporate flu vaccines here.
Written by Juliet Blank – ZoomDoc Health Contributor